Scout's Notebook: A Few Position Shifts Worth Noting

17 September 2017: Jaylon Smith (54) of the Dallas Cowboys during their week 2 regular season 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

IRVING, Texas – Five thoughts, primarily about the defense, as the Cowboys continue to prepare for their preseason dress rehearsal against the Dolphins.

  • I continue to believe this right defensive end position is still unsettled in how this rotation is going to work. Jeremy Mincey appears to be the front runner for the job as the starter, but behind him is where it becomes extremely muddy. Martez Wilson has been the primary backup but his play has been up and down -- both defending the run and rushing the passer. A player to keep an eye on for this spot, especially as that nickel rusher is former defensive end Kyle Wilber. Jason Garrett has done nothing but preach about getting his best players on the field regardless of the position and this could be a case where Wilber -- even as productive as he has been at Sam linebacker -- could put his hand down a series or two and play some end until the clubs figures out the availability of Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence.  Keep a close eye on how this plays out and how they use him in this scheme. 

Photos from Wednesday's practice at Valley Ranch.

  • If there is a positive with Sterling Moore missing practice, it is that Tyler Patmon is getting more work as the slot corner. While inside, he is dealing with the likes of veterans Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley, who can turn defensive backs around right off the snap. Patmon has the skill to handle the responsibility but lacks the experience at this level. B.W. Webb can play inside, but the coaching staff has thrown Patmon in there to see how he is going to react.
  • It was a missed opportunity for Ahmad Dixon to have to sit out that game last week against the Ravens due to his being late for the final walkthrough in Oxnard. Dixon opened eyes with his play against the Chargers but now has to rally to once again regain the coaching staff's trust. Instead of running with Jeff Heath and the second defense, he finds himself behind J.J. Wilcox and Jakar Hamilton on the depth chart.
  • With the way these centers and guards switch positions along the line, it would not surprise me one bit to see these coaches try and work Uche Nwaneri some at center. In just watching him play, he shows nice balance and hand use at the point of attack. He appears to be alert enough with his assignments that this would not be a tough transition. We have seen Zack Martin take some snaps during practice but not yet in a game. Maybe Nwaneri would be in that same mold? [embedded_ad]
  • When you talk to the coaches and scouts about Anthony Hitchens, the one word that appears to be consistent with him is "versatility". To a man, they speak about his ability to line up inside or out and take productive snaps. While at Iowa he played on the outside and looked completely comfortable there. After he was drafted, in his first few practices with the Cowboys he was played inside at Mike and did not look out of place with the way he moved and making adjustments. Then Justin Durant came back from his injury and the team traded for Rolando McClain, and he was again shifted to outside. Now with injuries at the position, he is one again back inside. To his credit, he has handled all of this transition well both mentally and physically, which for most rookie players would have been much too difficult.
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